It’s not going to be the best year to see the Perseid meteor shower; outshining much of the view is one of the brightest full moons of the year.
The sturgeon supermoon was actually fullest on Thursday in the early evening, but it will still appear full to most eyes on Friday. A supermoon occurs when the moon’s orbit is closest to Earth at the same time the moon is full, according to NASA.
Even if it doesn’t appear completely full Friday and Saturday nights, it’s still going to make viewing the Perseids difficult.
The Perseid meteor shower, debris from the Swift-Tuttle comet, usually bring as many as 50-100 “shooting stars” per hour at its peak and is visible this year from Aug. 12-13, according to NASA Blogs.
The comet itself orbits the sun only every 133 years and is due to pass next in 2125. The debris remnants circle the Earth once a year, providing a vivid meteor shower to late summer night skies. So while you’ll likely miss the meteor shower this year, there’s always next summer.
“Sadly, this year’s Perseids peak will see the worst possible circumstances for spotters,” said NASA astronomer Bill Cooke, who leads the Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
Mike McFarland, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Seattle, said determined people might be able to see a few meteors if they position themselves behind something that blocks the moon.
However, he said, it hardly seems worth it.
McFarland used to drive up to Mount Pilchuck, which he says is the perfect stargazing spot, to see the Perseids. He’d stay up all night, facing north or northeast, where the constellation Perseus rises, and see hundreds of meteors, of which a dozen or so were stunners.
Compared to that, “tonight’s forecast is exactly as bad as it gets for starwatching,” he said. “We wouldn’t even try with the moon like this.”
Though the Perseids will be hard to spot this year, a nearly full moon on a summer night is a treat of its own, McFarland said.